Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tiny turtle wins award, the show is installed, and not just my Sprightly has to deal with snakes!

I'm ecstatic to say a trip to the mail boxes was rewarded with a note saying my tiny turtle won second place for sculpture in this year's miniatures show held by the Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers society of Washington DC!
The show runs from Nov 22 thru Jan 2.

I popped into Manitou Galleries today and they'd just finished getting everything in place for next Friday's reception. They just have to get the lights all pointing in the right directions and they're all done.

I'm really looking forward to hanging around a room full of people enjoying my handiwork for the evening and answering lots of questions.
That's my hope; of course my secret fear is spending the evening all alone with my work in a big empty gallery to the sound of crickets chirping.
But don't tell that to anyone!
If you read my blog and live nearby, come and say 'hi'!
I'd love to meet you.

Thanks Bobbi for the pic you sent of your Sprightly mouse standing his ground against his mortal foe, the dreaded bull snake.
Mice dread them anyway, I find them quite appealing.

I just completely re-vamped my tree frog's home.
I'll get some pics up maybe next week. It's a froggy penthouse now. - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A night at the museum, and my Nov 6 show progress...

Last night Meridee and I went to the Albuquerque Museum's miniatures and more show grand opening.
I'm lucky enough to have had three of my mice and tiny bunnies picked as two small sets of sculpture. I'd never been there before, but I was surprised by how grand it really was.
I've never seen so many people all dressed up to the nines around these parts before.
Maybe I've been hanging out in all the wrong places, but I felt strangely transported to New York City or something.

Anyhow, the way they sell stuff is quite interesting.
Every painting and sculpture has a price on it, and also has a number next to it, and a correspondingly numbered ballot box type thing mounted somewhere nearby.
You get a bunch of green paper slips when you go in, so you can fill out your info if you want to buy something, and drop it in the right box.

At the end of the evening the boxes are opened, and a name is drawn from each box, so that person gets to buy that piece.
Since paintings are one of a kind, most boxes will only have one winner.
But bronzes are different.
I had 5 available listed, so if there were more than five names in the box, the first five pulled would be winners.

Of course they don't actually win anything. Except the chance to buy their prize.

Since I'm one of those self obsessed artist types I contorted myself about so I could see down into my boxes (a bit tricky without blocking the light from getting in through the tiny slit in the top).

Of course I cunningly disguised my actions to resemble someone with some very serious muscle imbalances, thoughtfully peering closer at someone else's work.

It's what us artists do you know.
Is it the money, or the tickle to the ego that makes us do it?
It's either a bit of both, or a lot of both. Probably a lot.

The place was jammed with the elegantly dressed. But every once in a while I would glance around and see another strangely twisted person appearing to scrutinize some art, while hovering directly over a ballot box.

Well I was very happy to see more than one green slip in both my boxes.
So I felt rather pleased with myself when we left.
Which was a bit before the end, so I'll have to find out later how it all went.

Well, thanks to Lee Wilson, Mike Masse and Madd Castings I've got everything I need for my show.

Strangely I already sold all but one of my new small-ish turtles, so the one at Manitou will have to be for order taking only until I get more done.
So besides all the stuff already over there, there'll be tree frogs on balls, a mid size bumper to bumper, some wine bottle stoppers (turtle and rabbit), a toad on a leaf, and the small-ish turtle.

I should insist on putting it all in a sealed glass display case with a load of live crickets wandering about among them.

My website, - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The tree frog has landed...

One small step for a tree frog,
One giant leap for tree frog-kind.
(I've not actually had any real tree frogs confirm that last part)

Anyhow, I've got my first two tree frog sculptures finished.
Over at Mike's secret patina cave we tried a few things. Like some greens in various hues, but ended up liking a transparent golden-ish bronze with dark blotchy rings best.

The blotchiness is very similar to the markings on my real tree frog as he might be seen in a gigantic version sitting on the earth and viewed from space.

Unfortunately a tree frog's place on our planet is a bit precarious these days.

So now I know I'll have tree frogs in my show at Manitou Galleries on Nov 6, thanks to Madd Castings turning the raw metal around so fast, Lee's speedy mold making and wax work, and Mike's splendid metal finishing and artful patina work.

I'm sure I must have had something to do with making them too, but it seems so long ago I can hardly remember!

I took a few pics of one over at Meridee's favorite garden center.

I've got more frogs up my sleeve I'm itching to get going on, but first things first.
Will I get my new turtle pieces finished in time for the show?

Oh, speaking of shows, I'm honored to have some mice and tiny bunnies in Albuquerque museum's miniatures and more show which kicks off next Saturday (Oct 24).
Not sure if Saturday is open to the public or pre-arranged somehow.

My website, - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

9 mice auctioned at the "Barkin' Ball". How did they do?

Last night was the humane society shelter's "Barkin' Ball".

I really didn't have much clue what to expect, except I knew there'd be a bunch of stuff up for silent auction, some food, dogs and hopefully some beer.

Check out the pics, taken with my new fangled shiny phone thingy that does a gazzillion things, and even lets you send and receive calls!

The tables were laid with silverware and dog treats!

Check out the hound packing heat!

It sold out which we know because some friends of ours decided to try and get tickets.
It was much bigger than I expected, in a huge room in the new and very tastefully decorated conference center.
So it turned out there was a bunch of stuff up for silent auction, some food, lots of very nicely turned out dogs, and happily some beer.
And a band.

I'd swung by the shelter a couple of weeks earlier to drop off three more mice since the last half dozen.

I was pretty eager to see how my critters were faring in the silent auction.
People put their name (or ticket #) next to how high they're prepared to bid.
They had all nine sprinkled about either individually, or as group lots of 3.
Lots of good stuff on offer.

From what I could tell by nosing about the mice pulled in more than their retail value, which is great news for the shelter's critters, and a nice stroke for my ego which is such a delicate, fragile little thing!

Lots of dogs got a real kick out of the event.
Like they knew it was all just for them!
Some others looked a bit overwhelmed by it all.

That's Valerie above, one of the many volunteers helping out. She walks dogs at the shelter.

I noticed one of Louise Peterson's Great Dane miniatures was also up for auction. Her stuff pops up everywhere!
I saw her in Loveland while we were both participating in 'Sculpture in the Park' in August, and was mightily gratified that she asked to trade me one of her puppy bronzes for one of my mice.
I like her work a lot.

My website... - Sculpture that loves you back
My Etsy store, CritterVille.

Monday, October 5, 2009

How a hole in the head sometimes helps, and how to avoid one when it doesn't...

I picked up a bunch of my castings from the foundry folks on Saturday to hand over to Lee when he gets back from his marathon mold making session in Colorado.

They raved enthusiastically about Lee's mold making, by the way.

But back to casting issues. When you cast pieces hollow you can run into a bit of a problem, depending on the shape.

This might get a bit confusing to follow! My attempts at describing it are far from perfect!

Once you have your thin wax (like half of one of those hollow easter eggs), you have to coat both the inside and outside in hard ceramic shell. To do this you dip it into a slurry, let it dry, and repeat several times, over several days.
Trouble is, if you imagine filling a cup made of chocolate by gripping the rim and dipping it into batter bottom first, it fills up and is so heavy to lift out that things can break.
Or at best, the slurry is so far down inside a long skinny cup that no air gets to it to dry it out.
It would be easier if the cup had a hole in the bottom. Which is usually about where anything's head would be.
With a hole in the bottom, our cup would fill up from the bottom (coating the inside and outside simultaneously) and drain when you pull it back out.

So as you can see with the toad, you remove a 'window' to let the slurry run out, so it can thinly coat both the inside and the outside of the wax (which of course later is melted out and bronze poured into the empty void).

Then the window piece (like a piece removed from the bottom of a cup) is cast separately and welded back in and the join cleaned up later.
Well with my turtle and tree frogs I didn't want any windows cut out and welded back in, but they were still going to be cast hollow.

So instead, once you have your hollow wax sculpture, you push some bronze pins through it.
You dip the wax into the slurry (like pushing a cup bottom first into some batter), but don't let it spill over the edge to the inside.
The inside is dealt with separately.

It is completely filled with a plaster type material that dries more easily. The plaster stuff is held in place by the pins (which are also held by the ceramic shell on the outside), so when the wax is melted out the inner lump of plaster doesn't fall to one side or the other (if it did, you'd have a thick bronze on one side, and holes in the other).

Then, when the plaster is set, the wax is melted out and the bronze is poured into the space that the wax left behind, the resulting bronze critter, once the ceramic shell on the outside, and the plastery stuff on the inside is removed, appears to have pins pushed into it (and you can see them inside too).

But no holes in their heads to mess about with later.
Just a couple of pins to grind off and smooth over.

Interestingly I was introduced to the 'hole in the head' in shot form during my years in Hong Kong.
Martyn, who was tending bars at the time (just about everyone did a stint behind the bar at one point or other) showed me a layered drink in a shot glass. It was three layers, one of Sambuka and one of Vodka, with a lethal red line of tabasco in between.

Downed in one and called a 'hole in the head', it was designed to make your eyes water!

My website, my Etsy store.

Friday, October 2, 2009

And the winner is...

Well I hope you all enjoyed that, and congratulations Max Love.
That's a great name, although it's definitely got my spider senses tingling!

Thanks to a gentle ripple of good fortune in the calm backwater of fate you are this time's lucky winner of Sprightly mouse.
My method of selection went as follows: (as random as pulling from a hat, but less fiddly to accomplish!)

Export, then print out the email addresses and names of everyone on my email list.
Divide it into 6 chunks (numbered 1-6).
Meridee, from her reposeful vantage point high up on the bed threw a dice into the corner of the room. Well, her first try landed on the bed, so she threw again!
It was a four, so I continued with group four.

I divided it up, and Meridee rolled again.
The winning names were then numbered 1-5 (all names and email addresses in this group began with the letter 'M').
We rolled the dice together for the last one. It was a two.
Max Love won. So he'll get a solid bronze Sprightly mouse to call his own (or it could be a her of course) and the lucky dice that won it for him or her.

I hope you enjoyed that (I know I did).

Next time I announce a competition it won't be on my blog, it will be exclusively through my email list for everyone who's on it by then, and their friends. Probably sometime in late November.
So thanks everyone for signing up, and keep your eyes peeled in November! Next time my contest will be a tiny bit more involved than just signing up, but not much.

My next post will likely be a return to work in progress on my new pieces for my upcoming Nov 6 show at Manitou Galleries in Santa Fe.

If you haven't signed up and you want a shot in November, you know what to do!

My website. My Etsy store.